Its taken a hell of a long time but the end is nigh for the former Newacres library at Tavy Bridge in Thamesmead as well as the associated footbridge over the road. Demolition of the footbridge should commence from Friday 28th April. This is Peabody though so another delay wouldn’t be a great surprise.

Work on a replacement road crossing should begin on Tuesday 18th April.

The library moved into temporary facilities (a bunch of portacabins) about four years ago, stuck in the middle of nowhere. It was supposed to move back to a permanent facility by 2015. Peabody’s takeover of Gallions Housing Association caused an understandable delay but progress has been slow. And despite coming up with new plans, why have Peabody waited so long to demolish this area when adjacent areas were levelled years ago? Since then there have been a couple of arson attacks on empty properties.

There’s houses further north of the old library at Binsey Walk which now appear completely vacant. Correct me if I’m wrong in the comments. If not entirely empty I’d guess at least 90% are. Yet there’s no imminent plans to demolish these crumbling and boarded up houses, let alone build replacements for years to come. There is a housing crises so why is this?

When Peabody’s takeover of Gallions was announced back in 2013 (officially labelled as a merger) it seemed an extremely positive step after Gallions, who built some real rubbish. Instead, here was a group that had commissioned great architects at numerous award-winning projects. But they now own huge swaths of land, and if progress so far is any indication of what we can expect then will there be many vacant plots for years to come?

The area circled in purple is next due for demolition

They own sites that are crucial in developing thriving towns but is there too much on their plate? Sites such as the old Harrow Inn pub near Abbey Wood station are a case in point. Since taking ownership from the dire previous owners they’ve put in new fencing and that’s it. When will we see plans? Are they preoccupied not only with one Housing Zone but two, numerous sites contained therein, plus the huge amount of land outside that?

Thamesmead plans commencing in months

It’s always risky to have so much in the hands of one organisation. Greenwich Peninsula took an age to progress with one landowner. The model of splitting plots up to various developers, so common on mainland Europe, seems preferable.

Peabody have said they will work with other developers but are still the organisation in charge. Let’s hope they are up to the task, and recent news such as merging with another large Housing Association named Family Mosaic does not cause anymore slow downs.

Other Housing Zone sites

Just today they revealed they are looking at another 11,500 homes by the river.

I don’t want to be too down on Peabody. They’ve done some great landscape and park work and do have a proud legacy of hiring fine architectural practices. The plans for Thamesmead shown so far look fantastic. But with it now almost four years on since they took over Gallions let’s hope this demolition is the first of many instances of action.